Soccer players fuel confidence with show against Poland: ‘Can win from anyone’

Soccer players fuel confidence with show against Poland: ‘Can win from anyone’

NOS Football

Soccer players fuel confidence against Poland: 4-1

Exactly one hundred days before the start of the Women’s World Cup, the Netherlands beat Poland 4-1 in a practice match at Het Kasteel in Rotterdam.

National coach Andries Jonker, who was extraordinarily satisfied with the game shown on Friday despite the 1-0 defeat against top nation Germany, saw his team once again give a very attractive performance.

Especially the experiment with race footballers Victoria Pelova and Esmee Brugts as wingbacks tasted of more. “This was the idea that was in my head. But then the question is: can it be done? Then it turns out it can be done very quickly with these girls.”

Jonker balks at Brazil

Preferably, Jonker would have liked to see both against a top country. Against Germany that was not possible because Brugts was not fit enough. Against Poland it did, a formidable opponent but not an absolute top.

Actually, Orange was supposed to practice against Brazil, but that top country chose a different path after losing the Finalissima against England after penalties. Sarina Wiegman, by the way, lost tonight for the first time in 30 games with the English to another top country, Australia (2-0).

National coach Jonker sees experiment succeeding, but would have preferred to hit Brazil: ‘Top country unworthy’

And that still sat high with the national coach. “At the draw in Auckland, I myself made the arrangements with Germany and Brazil to come and play soccer here. Actually Brazil just let us down. That’s not because of the coach (Pia Sundhage, ed.), because I get along with her very well. But I do find it completely inappropriate. We are very happy with Poland that gave us a lot of resistance. I don’t think you can make this as a very big soccer country.”

Attacking wingbacks

Under the watchful eye of the injured Vivianne Miedema and technical director of the KNVB Nigel de Jong, the Netherlands started in a 3-5-2 formation as they did against Germany last Friday.

Sherida Spitse therefore played in the last line again and the from an injury recovered Esmee Brugts (left) and Victoria Pelova (right) as attacking wingbacks. The two proved a constant scourge for their opponents.

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    Sari van Veenendaal (l) and Vivianne Miedema (m)
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    Nigel de Jong and Andries Jonker

Just like against Germany, the Netherlands started the match strongly, with well-kept play and some nice chances. Poland is not a World Cup contender, but proved to be a high-level opponent. And an opponent that does not shy away from physical combat.

“If you get a huge cone within three seconds, then you know the opposing team wants the fight,” Jonker soberly observed after the match. “You don’t see that very much in women’s soccer yet, but tonight you did. And then you have to get off your chest. I didn’t see that aggression enough in the first half.”

Unlucky of the first half was Damaris Egurrola, who suffered three hard hits to her head and eventually had to go to the side dazed. She was replaced by Aniek Nouwen, allowing Sherida Spitse to return to her familiar controlling role in midfield.

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    Orange’s starting lineup for the practice match with Poland.
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    Damaris Egurrola on the ground

Shortly after the substitution, the Dutch were dealt a jaw-dropping blow themselves. At the first Polish corner, midfielder Weronika Zawistowska was overlooked and her shot flew with some luck over goalkeeper Daphne van Domselaar into the far corner. The ball seemed to disappear into the net, but star player Ewa Pajor – eager, as befits a top scorer in the Champions League – gave the final touch.

Just after that 1-0, Poland had another chance. Van Domselaar kept the breakthrough Sylwia Matysik from scoring and, to her relief, saw the rebound bumped past the goal by Natalia Wróbel.

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    Party at Poland
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    Damaris Egurrola on the ground

The Orange then picked up the gauntlet again and continued happily creating chances. After a fine move by Victoria Pelova, Lineth Beerensteyn saw her hard slide hit the inside of the post.

Goalkeeper Semich seemed to hit that shot just barely with her fingertips, as she had to act on a Brugts effort moments later. The deserved equalizer fell shortly before halftime: a cross from Lieke Martens landed on the back of defender Malgorzata Grec and disappeared into the goal.

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    Lineth Beerensteyn celebrates the 2-1
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    Netherlands celebrates the 1-1

Shortly after halftime, Beerensteyn still got the goal she had been coveting for two games. Brugts fooled her defender and her cross was headed into the goal by Beerensteyn via the inside of the post: 2-1.

After that, standout Brugts was rested and allowed to go to the side to loud applause. Pelova – who until this week had never played wingback, according to coach Jonker – was far from finished and a quarter of an hour before time gave a perfect cross, which was tapped in by Martens via Beerensteyn.

Her second of the evening was Martens’ 59th international goal, putting her on par with Manon Melis on the Orange’s top scorer list. Only Miedema scored more goals for the Orange: 95.

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    Lieke Martens (2) and Lineth Beerensteyn combined to score three goals against Poland.
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    Jill Roord celebrates the 4-1 in the practice match against Poland.

Ten minutes before time, Pelova, Beerensteyn and Martens got their crowd change and the newly 17-year-old Wieke Kaptein (called “Twente’s engine” by national coach Jonker) was allowed to make her debut.

Cold in the field, Kaptein was allowed to celebrate the 4-1. That came courtesy of Jill Roord, who worked a cross from another substitute Katja Snoeijs into the goal.

One more practice game

On July 2, the Dutch will play one more practice game in Kerkrade against Belgium. The first World Cup opponent is Portugal on July 23 in New Zealand’s Dunedin. Four days later in Wellington is the cracker against the United States. On Aug. 1, the Netherlands concludes the group stage against Vietnam.

We just might see a 17-year-old in action then. “I get a smile when I see her training,” Jonker does not hide his assessment of Kaptein. “She has been pulling the cart at Twente for three quarters of a year. I don’t look at age, I look at quality.”

Herself was Kaptein and hugged everyone she met: “The World Cup is a dream, but not realistic. But I have already enjoyed it so much this week, not normal.”

Watch reactions from Lineth Beerensteyn, Lieke Martens and debutante Wieke Kaptein below.

And will we see Beerensteyn back at the World Cup as a striker? “She played her 90th international and scored her 24th goal,” the national coach spooned out delicately. “And then she has always had competition from Vivianne Miedema, Shanice van de Sanden and Lieke Martens. What to say then. I think Lineth Beerensteyn is a great player.”

At least Beerensteyn and Martens have gained confidence for the World Cup. In chorus, they echoed, “If we can bring it up to play like today, we can win from anyone.”

Kayleigh Williams